Stellar Sculpture and Other Exciting Summer Acquisitions

Faith, 1866–1867

Faith, 1866–1867
By Hiram Powers

New acquisitions to the collection are always exciting, and this summer the Gibbes has been very fortunate. Thanks to William and Susanne McGuire and the McGuire Family Foundation, an acquisition fund was established in 2011 to bolster the museum’s sculpture collection in preparation for the renovation and reopening of the Gibbes. Recognizing the significance of the Rotunda gallery to the architectural history of the building and to visitors’ experience, the McGuires have been working closely with the Gibbes staff for the last three years to find sculptural pieces that will enhance the reinstallation of the collection in this magnificent gallery which was originally designed to function as a grand sculpture gallery. Our goal has been to locate exceptional examples of nineteenth-century marble sculpture by American artists in keeping with the tradition of Charlestonians who patronized American artists working in Italy during that era. This summer, two remarkable works of neoclassical sculpture were secured as part of this effort. Full size busts of Faith, by sculptor Hiram Powers and Helen of Troy by Pierce Francis Connelly (a student of Powers’) are premier examples of work by these nineteenth-century American artists. These remarkable statues will soon reside in the beautifully restored Rotunda, with the support of Board members Susan and Van Campbell.

Helen of Troy” by Pierce Francis Connelly

Helen of Troy” by Pierce Francis Connelly

In addition to our major sculpture acquisitions we also received a very generous donation of two watercolor paintings Wednesday Chores (2004) and Sweet Potato Pie (1998) by Charleston artist Mary Whyte. Donated by David Inge of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, these works are featured in Whyte’s book Down Bohicket Road: An Artist’s Journey. Paintings from this series— including the two in this donation—document the Gullah women of the Hebron Saint Francis Center on John’s Island. Soon after her permanent move to Charleston, Whyte joined the group’s weekly fellowship meetings and began to sketch portraits of the women and their activities—bible study, quilting and meal preparation. The experience represents a turning point in the artist’s career and resulted in an acclaimed series of watercolors honoring the women and their dedication to family and faith.

Wednesday Chores, 2004, by Mary Whyte

Wednesday Chores, 2004, by Mary Whyte

Finally, as part of our effort to develop an outstanding collection of contemporary art by southern artists, the Gibbes purchased Wave Upon Wave (2014) by John Westmark from the recent solo exhibition John Westmark: Narratives organized by the Gibbes and on view from April 4–August 3, 2014. Westmark was the 2012 recipient of the Factor Prize for Contemporary Southern Art (now the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art). His large-scale paintings explore the human figure through an innovative use of text and paper sewing patterns collaged on canvas. Westmark’s paintings depict strong courageous women, some portrayed as stoic martyrs and others as warriors engaged in conflicts of rebellion.

Wave Upon Wave, 2014

Wave Upon Wave, 2014
By John Westmark

We are looking forward to seeing all of these new additions to the permanent collection on view in the renovated gallery spaces!

Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections

Society 1858 Announces Sonya Clark as the 2014 Winner of the 1858 Prize

Sonya Clark

Artist Sonya Clark

Society 1858, an auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art, is pleased to announce Sonya Clark as the 2014 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, the 1858 Prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. This year, over 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted applications. Clark is the first female artist to be awarded the 1858 Prize. Her work examines contemporary issues of gender and race through a variety of mediums.

“Sonya Clark is a phenomenal artist whose intellectual rigor and thoughtful approach to materials stands out from the crowd. Her work truly embodies the spirit of the 1858 Prize and its mission to contribute to a new understanding of contemporary southern art,” says Gibbes Museum Curator of Exhibitions, Pam Wall.

Clark holds an MFA (Cranbrook Academy of Art), a BFA (Art Institute of Chicago), and a BA in psychology (Amherst College) and chairs the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has been exhibited in over 250 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and throughout the United States. She uses objects such as cloth, hair, and combs to give voice to the complexity of American identity and history. Simple objects become an interface for dialog that ranges from the vernacular to the political to the poetic.  Her work includes a variety of mediums. In “My Hair Craft Project (Jamilah)” she engages Southern hairdressers to use her body as canvas to re-frame Black hairdressing as art.

Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark

Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark

“Given the calibre of the finalists, I am absolutely humbled to be chosen for the 1858 Award. The complexities and the simplicities that drive the content of my work will be amplified by this generous support. I am both buoyed by this endorsement of my past work and eager to delve into the well of the next possibilities. To the folks in Society 1858 at the Gibbes Museum: thank you, thank you, thank you,” says Sonya Clark.

 

1858 Unveiling Party

Sonya Clark with finalist Jim Arendt and his wife (and 7 week old baby!) at the Unveiling Party

Clark came to Charleston for the Unveiling Party on Thursday evening to speak to a sold-out crowd of over 150 attendees at the Vendue. She spoke to Adam Parker, Arts Editor of the Post and Courier and said ” Always I am fueled by curiosity in the ways we are uniquely individual and yet inherently connected.” read the rest of her interview here.

Clark’s work is on view  at Crystal Bridges Museum as part of the State of the Art, Discovering American Art Now exhibition that opened September 13 and runs through January 19, 2015.

Unveiling Party photo by Carolina Photosmith

Miniature Painting by David Gillespie

There can be no doubt that our interest in miniature painting was most certainly influenced, and nurtured by studying, admiring, and conversing over the incredible collection of original miniature paintings housed at the Gibbes Museum of Art. South Carolina seems to have been particularly fond of miniature painting, as evidenced by many resident miniature painters, itinerant miniature painters, and patronage of its citizenry over the centuries.

David and Renee at Middleton Place

David & Renee demonstrated Miniature Painting in our Colonial Clothes at Middleton Place. Notice the Miniature of Renee around my neck!

For Renee and me, the interest we share in the fine arts, along with our interest in 18th century history has, for us, its perfect marriage in miniature painting. We decided to seek out an instructor of this discipline, and truly found a gem. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Joan Cornish Willies, a member of the Royal Miniature Society of England, we have been learning the European mode of miniature painting. Ms. Joan has been painting miniatures since around 1937 and has kindly taken us under her wing. She has brought an almost extinct art form back to life for us.

Nathaniel Russel, 1818, by Charles Fraser

A miniature of Nathaniel Russel, 1818, by Charles Fraser

We consider it an honor and blessing to have her as an instructor, a considerable resource, and now a dear friend. Ms. Joan has taught us how to mix our own paint from gemstone pigments such as Lapis Lazuli, and Jasper. Much in the spirit of Charleston’s own Charles Fraser, we take great satisfaction in mixing our own pigments when possible to not only get a more unique and valuable miniature made of precious materials, but also to use pigments which have shown they will stand the test of time. At present, I am painting a miniature portrait of Renee that is 2 and a half inches high and utilizes Lapis Lazuli blues, Jasper reds, and Amethyst for some purples, with 24 carat gold lettering that will be housed in a 24 carat gold oval frame meant to be worn.

I initially began painting in oils, but am now using watercolors, which is the medium used in many of the miniatures at the Gibbes. Using a series of nearly a half a million cross hatches, strokes, and dots per painting, the portrait begins to take life. Only small amounts of paint are used. The watercolor is built up slowly, all the while allowing the bright color from the ground or material painted on to show through. A letter from 1800 which describes the painting process in great detail, as well as a treatise written by Nicolas Hilliard during the reign of Elizabeth I, are source materials for using period techniques and getting into the process of these works of art that are also worn as jewelry. Having its roots in Medieval Illumination, Hans Holbein the Younger brought miniature painting to England, and was court painter to King Henry VIII. From the 1530’s to the present, it is fascinating to see how the the miniature has evolved and is still a much valued art.

Miniature Painting by David Gillespie

David’s toolbox

Renee is painting subject miniatures in oils while I am focusing mostly on portraits in watercolor. Our presentation at the Gibbes will show the watercolor technique using period appropriate materials, all from a teak wood box that can be neatly tucked under my arm and carried about from place to place, much like those of the 18th and 19th centuries. We will explain some of the tools, techniques, and pigments, and share with the audience our passion for what we consider one of the most fascinating forms of art not only from our past, but also relevant to the present.

Join David, Renee and Gibbes Curator of Collections, Sara Arnold to learn more about the art of miniatures with Tokens of Affection: Miniature Portraits from the Gibbes Collection.

Saturday, September 27, 10am-12noon

Location: The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street,

$35 Gibbes and Charleston Museum Members, $40 Non-Members

To register, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21.

Renee Gillespie, has a Bachelor Degree in Art from Washington College in Chestertown, MD, and also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Renee is currently practicing the nearly lost art of miniature painting. Taking instruction from a member of England’s Royal Miniature Society, the oldest miniature society in the world, Renee has been learning the art and discipline in the European Mode. Renee also is gifted in Natural Dyeing, and Batiking. Her Indigo Dyed Cloth has been purchased by the Smithsonian Institution.

David Gillespie, is a full time stone carver, miniature painter, and a 10th generation South Carolinian. He also has authored the recent book, A Brief Treatise on Tomb and Grave Stones of the Eighteenth Century. David is a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Pickens County SC Historical Society and is a grant recipient of the South Carolina Arts Commission for his stone work. He has just been selected by the magazine Early American Life as one of America’s Best Craftsmen and selected for the Directory of Traditional Crafts in the August 2014 issue.

More about David and Renee can be found at their website at pumpkintownprimitives.com

 

Marketing and Public Relations in the Art World

Interning for the Gibbes Museum of Art this summer has been the experience of a lifetime. Not only did an incredible museum and staff surround me, but also I was able to confidently declare Public Relations as my dream occupation. I was fortunate enough to work for Amy Mercer, the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Gibbes, in assisting her during this exciting time of change for the museum. Mrs. Mercer informed me early on that this summer would be a different internship experience than those from the past, due to the upcoming 16-month renovation. However, this period of transition was the perfect time for me to learn more about marketing and public relations in the real world.

Rose Cochran

Marketing Intern Rose Cochran with her favorite painting by John Westmark, The Catch

My initial tasks included updating Facebook posts, taking pictures for Instagram, and creating a Vine account for the museum. Shortly after I was organizing press releases, promoting events, and attending branding workshops, all of which were fantastic learning opportunities. Because the Gibbes Museum is a non-profit organization, support from the community is a necessity. I watched Mrs. Mercer work endlessly and passionately to promote the museum in a positive way during this exciting time. My eyes were opened to the influence that each word has in an organization’s mission statement. These messages are chosen carefully in order to fully exemplify the organization’s goal. I was lucky enough to observe this process during a crucial time and assist the staff in researching a branding strategy for the Gibbes Museum.

During this internship I also learned that event planning is a critical component of public relations. The two departments work together in order to involve the community and benefit the museum. The programs and events that the Gibbes offers are all unique, educational, and fun. These events are constantly celebrating local talent and inviting the public to join in. With each program, the Gibbes creates a stimulating event that always affects the community in a positive and uplifting way.

Art of Healing with John Westmark

Art of Healing discussion with John Westmark

One of my favorite programs currently offered by the Gibbes is the Art of Healing, sponsored by Roper St. Frances Healthcare. This program is paving the way for people to understand the influence that art can have during a healing process. The Gibbes has created a lending collection of 22 paintings, currently being used at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. Local artists have donated these works for hospitalized patients to hang in their rooms during their stay. The hope is that these paintings will provide relief to the distressed and facilitate their recovery process. The Gibbes also offers panel discussions with local doctors to speak about current exhibitions, and how art can benefit us in our daily lives. My exposure to the Art of Healing began with an informative and inspiring panel discussion with artist John Westmark. Psychiatrist Linda Austin and Dr. Jeb Hallet discussed the art of healing in relation to Westmark’s exhibit Narratives earlier this summer. Not only is the Gibbes  providing the city of Charleston with a beautiful museum full of wonderful history, they are also providing an outlet of relief through art.

The Gibbes Museum of Art will continue to grow, inspire and change lives. The upcoming renovation will provide the public with a creative learning center while remaining an establishment that cherishes the community and Charleston’s history. I feel incredibly proud and accomplished to have interned for such a remarkable organization and I wish the museum all the best in the years to come.

Rose Cochran, Rising Sophmore at Sewanee, Marketing Intern, and Guest Blogger

The Art of the Sea with Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells is an ‘obsessive compulsive’ fisherman. A photo of Kells on her website shows her proudly displaying a Permit that she caught off Cudjoe Key in 2011. “I take a photograph of every fish I catch before I release it,” she says.

Val Kells

Marine Science Illustrator Val Kells at home on the water

Kells is a full-time, highly trained, freelance scientific illustrator with over 30 years of professional experience. She works closely with educational, design, and curatorial staff to produce accurate and aesthetic scientific and interpretive illustrations. She has created over 2,000 illustrations for a wide variety of clients including publishers, designers, master planners, museums, nature centers, and public aquariums and is the coauthor of A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes – from Maine to Texas. “This comprehensive guidebook to all of the fishes found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should become an integral part of the library of any naturalist, angler, or fish enthusiast,” says Edward O. Murdy, National Science Foundation.

Val Kells Book Cover

A comprehensive guide book to coastal fishes

She is currently working on the Pacific coast version which will include close to 800 species and will be published in the spring of 2016. These comprehensive books are used in classrooms, labs, and on boats by students, scientists, and nature lovers. “I love when people send me photographs of themselves on a boat with a fish in one hand and my book in another,” she says. Kells says her work is ongoing and she will unlikely run out of subjects to illustrate.

Kells’ research is meticulous and each illustration can take up to a full day to complete. She works from her studio in Virginia with the support of an extensive network of associates and colleagues across the country.  She begins with a preliminary pencil drawing to ‘work out the kinks’ paying close attention to the morphology of the species from the number of scales to the placement of fins. When she is satisfied, she transfers the drawing to watercolor paper and begins to paint. “I go into a Zen mode at this point. I turn on some Bruce Springsteen and paint until it’s done.”

Kells began drawing as a very young girl in Rye, New York, and studied art throughout high school. “I also had a deep love of the natural environment from the time I was young. And when my parents sent me to a summer camp in the Florida Keys, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she adds. After studying Marine Biology at Boston University, she transferred to UC Santa Cruz in 1983 and ‘fell upon’ the (then) newly established Science Illustration Program where she was able to combine her two loves: art and science. One of her first clients was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and since then she has worked with over 25 aquariums and museums around the country including the Florida State, Long Beach, and North Carolina aquariums. Kells also worked for our own South Carolina Aquarium when it first opened.

One of the best compliments she received was when a woman mistook her paintings for photographs. Her illustrations are precisely detailed and she says, “The artwork I create cannot be produced by photographic or digital means.” She enjoys working with fishes that are unusual and mimic coral or those that have evolved in fascinating ways. “I also love painting iridescent fishes like Billfishes, Tunas, and Mackerels because they allow the watercolor to do what it does best.” The love of her work and the fishes she carefully constructs on paper is evident in each illustration.

During her upcoming discussion “Art of the Sea” at the South Carolina Aquarium, she will discuss the continuing value of original drawings and paintings in a visual world awash with digital photographs.  Join us for another fabulous Art With a Twist Event to hear Val Kells speak about her creative process on September 24 at 6:30 pm!

For more information about Val Kells visit: www.valkellsillustration.com

Location:  SC Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf

Reception and Book Signing will follow.

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members

Science + Art + Poetry= Creative Kids

It has been quite some years since I spent a week at summer camp, much less a week inside a school during the middle of the summer.  I have never been expected to combine museum art, music, science, and writing as a student, much less a teacher, but a few weeks ago all that changed.

As a writer, I often respond to art through “Ekphrasis,” a dramatic, literary description of visual work of art.  And I love to teach that exploration of the known and unknown to others.  When Engaging Creative Minds said they were putting a camp together for this summer that was all about putting the arts and science together (read geek here) for kids, I said “Sign Me Up!!”  About the same time, I met Elise Detterbeck and Rebecca Sailor of the Gibbes Museum and learned about the art education program, and when we spoke about the possibility of collaboration at some point, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I have learned to trust this instinct.  It does not denote fear to me. It is the actual feeling of YES, do this, take this path. And that is how the partnership between the Gibbes Museum and my teaching for this summer’s STEAM Camp began.

STEAM

Summer STEAM camp at the School of the Arts

For the week of Gravity, Static Electricity, Magnetism, and Force students, 50-plus 3rd graders and I wrestled images, our bodies, words, and music, and then wrested poems and drawings that invited these concepts of science and the arts to play in our classroom.  I admit that at the beginning, I was daunted by the initial attempt to line up still images from the Gibbes’ collections with these science principles.  Not only because these concepts demand a sense of actual physical movement, but because as a writer and teacher, I wanted my students to understand that these science words, especially gravity and force, mean more than what is seen in a science lab.  This is what the arts bring to the mind, the imagination, the heart.  If I could not give them a glimpse of what else a vortex or a game of tug of war might mean on that “other” level, I would feel I had not done my job.

Each day at camp we began with scientific definitions, of dictionary definitions. We imagined what color gravity is, how static electricity tastes, how magnetism sounds, how force smells, what they all feel like to touch, to be touched by them. Then we looked at the image-texts provided by the Gibbes for us, and let our wonder spill out into our bodies and onto paper.  It is very important to keep 3rd – 5th graders moving!

On day one, we talked about gravity, what holds us and what holds us down and about defying gravity, as we looked at Eden’s Wizard of Oz Series “Inside the Witches House.” Day 2, we stepped up to the Smart Board and mimicked Hagerty’s “Moving with Time” as we became the characters of the painting, then morphed into another version of them, at the imagined touch of static electricity. Day 3 we explored the mystery of Lawrence’s “Accident” up close to the projected image, leaned in and considered what drew us towards both scary and joy-filled events. On Day 4, we spoke of forces, forces for good, forces for evil, making choices and where that force comes from inside of us, with Jansen’s “Lego Bricks” man.

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Accident 1946 by Jacob Lawrence

Then we wrote. Each student wrote a 5 line poem, a Cinquain that combined the ideas, concepts, words we had explored that day. We wrote to the art we had seen, the music I played for them that, like the Gibbes’ images gave another contextual avenue to their imaginations. Then we drew. We “pictured” the scientific concepts as objects, just as the Gibbes’ images offered possibilities our brains tied to them.  It was glorious to watch, to hear their minds bend and dance around, (and to watch some of their counselors get as excited as the kids) as they found new ways to conceive ideas, to breathe life into pens and into markers on a blank page.  I wish you could have seen them, the frowns of concentration, the smiles of ah-ha!

On the last day of camp, before they read their poems and showed their drawings to the rest of the camp, and some parents who came to cheer them on, we reviewed concepts of science and writing. We recalled how onomatopoeia is like static electricity, how magnetism pulls and pushes, how each image from the Gibbes made us go, “WOW!”  Then we wrote a poem together, a class poem, that combined all our senses, all our concepts, all our imaginations—the one thing I told them they must bring to class each day. And then, I gave the students markers and pens and the gift of play-dough, (which they could take home courtesy of Engaging Creative Minds) turned on some music, and let them 3-D something, anything they had learned.

I am not an art teacher. What they made was not fine-tuned with artistic skill past what they owned instinctually. But when they molded a piece into the space between two tables, out of curiosity, and discovered what it would do to the clay, giving them a whole new direction to play towards; or when they made a concrete object out of a concept and explained it to the class in simple, eloquent words that intertwined definition #1 with definition #2 or #3, then I could go home, tired, good tired, and smile too.  It was a good week, a hard week sometimes, but each of us grew. Each child and adult who brought their imaginations with them, let them out to play together in the space where the arts meets the sciences, stretched ourselves in ways we might never have imagined, had we not joined our forces, forces for good.

Mary Hutchins Harris, Poet and Guest Blogger

Check the calendar for a full listing of fall classes for adult and children

1858 Prize Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

The finalists have been revealed! In June, the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the 2014 short list for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell are the seven finalists for the prize. The winner will be announced on September 18th  at an event hosted by Society 1858.

Launching the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art has been a remarkable journey. Awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, the prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. A little over a year ago,  the executive director of the Gibbes, Angela Mack, came to Society 1858, the museum’s young patron auxiliary group, to see if we were interested in taking over the prize competition that had been established by Mallory and Elizabeth Factor in 2007.

The Society 1858 Board of Directors, led by co-chairs Margaret Furniss and Jamieson Clair, began the process of evaluating how we could rejuvenate and re-launch the prize. The first step was fund-raising, and we worked hard to raise money through sponsorships. We are incredibly thankful for our wonderful sponsors, Wells Fargo, Caviar & Bananas, Maybank Industries, Blackbaud, BoomTown!, Marc and Marnie Chardon, and Ellen and Edwin Harley. Another key initiative was creating a new web presence for the prize, and we partnered with the brilliant team at Blue Ion to launch a fabulous 1858 Prize website. The final step in the planning process was to establish a plan to foster long-term relationships with our prize-winning artists.

In May, at the close of the application process, we were thrilled to have over 250 submissions. The diversity, talent, and creativity of the artists who applied are a tribute to the contemporary art scene throughout the Southeast. Pam Wall, Gibbes curator of exhibitions, led a distinguished panel of judges: Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board Member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board Member; Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Marilyn Laufer, Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University; Frank McCauley, Assistant Director and Curator of the Sumter County Gallery of Art; and John Westmark, artist and 2012 Prize winner to narrow down the finalist to seven. I invite you to learn more about our finalists on our website at 1858prize.org. Additional information can be found on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

The goal of Society 1858 in taking over the prize was not only to support a contemporary artist right here in the Southeast, but also to form partnerships with these artists. We hope to support future installations, exhibits, and events that will introduce the artists to Charleston and the regional art community. For example, John Westmark, the 2012 Prize winner, had an exhibition, John Westmark: Narratives, that showed at the Gibbes through August 3 of this year. Society 1858 helped to sponsor this exhibition and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour with John where he spoke of his inspiration in creating the collection. We also have exciting plans to work with the Gibbes to establish an artist in residence program with 1858 Prize winners.

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The Fireflies by John Westmark

We have been honored by some of the feedback we have received from past and current finalists and winners about the impact the prize has had on their careers. John Westmark says winning the prize in 2012 has validated his work: “Without opportunities and acknowledgements, an artist runs the risk of toiling away in relative obscurity.” John has gone on to win other juried prizes and have exhibitions around the country. It has been an honor to get to know him and his beautiful work and to have helped contribute in even a small way to his tremendous success.

Mark your calendars! I invite you to join us when we announce the winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art on September 18 at the Vendue. It’s no secret that Society 1858 likes to celebrate, and the prize announcement provides just such an occasion. We are thrilled to report that the newly renovated Vendue: Charleston’s Art Hotel will be hosting this celebration in honor of the 2014 winner, with exciting opportunities to get to know this special artist.

Join us Thursday, September 18, from 7-9pm
19 Vendue Range
$15 1858 Members, $20 Non-Members
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

Check out my blog about the prize on Charleston Grit!

Amy Coy, Society 1858 President and Guest Blogger

Summer Camp at the Gibbes, an Intern’s Point of View

As a fine arts major at the University of Florida, I wanted to spend my summer introducing others to something I love.  I was thrilled to accept the opportunity to come to Charleston and intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art’s summer camp. Working with Kristen Solecki and the various groups of children that come to camp has proved to be a rewarding experience. When I was a child, summer art camps and classes were a highlight of my summer, and it has been very fulfilling to be able to help young campers have a similar experience.

Summer Camp

Campers proudly displaying their artwork

Each week, a different theme provides the base from which our projects stem, and the young artists do an excellent job of creating a unique collection of work to present at the camp’s concluding art show. This past week, our theme was “Art through the Ages” and campers learned about artists such as Frida Kahlo and Vasily Kadinsky. They loved learning about the artists’ backgrounds and works, and were very eager to make their own versions of vibrant fruit collages and patterned abstract drawings. This eagerness to learn, create, and discover new media at such a young age has been what has impressed me the most throughout the course of camp. Campers enjoy discovering how they can mix their own paint colors and they attempt to make as many unique shades as possible.

George Washington

George Washington Bust

During our nature themed week, campers were able to sit by the windows to draw from the scenery and take walks outside to gather inspiration. Various leaves, flower petals, and pebbles were collected to make multimedia collages. Campers also got a taste of printmaking, learning how to roll ink onto their found objects and press them onto sheets of paper. They were surprised at all the details and unique patterns that appeared from these simple outside findings. Working with clay has been a big hit as well, as the children are excited to turn their ideas into 3D forms. Campers experimented with both the pinch and coil method to make little pots and cups to hold their collectables at home. “I can’t wait to show my mom and dad” has been a common phrase in the classroom. These young artists are proud and excited by what they’ve created and rightfully so!

 

Taylor helping with the campers

Taylor assisting campers

Once a week, campers get to take a trip across the street to the museum to explore and learn about the many great works it holds. They are always excited to find out that the George Washington bust was once buried beneath the ground and is now so pristine and restored for viewing. They also enjoy seeing paintings of historic Charleston and being able recognize sites they can still see today, such as the market and the battery. When their tour is over, many of the children even ask if they can come back to show their parents.

As I prepare to return back to school for my senior year, I will keep in mind the eagerness of our young campers and remember to keep that enthusiasm and fasciation alive in my own work.

Taylor Adams, Summer Intern and Guest Blogger

The Art of Spinning Yarn, a Museum Educator’s Ongoing Education

I started volunteering with the Gibbes almost five years ago after getting a master’s degree in art history. Since then I’ve worked on numerous projects in the curatorial department, helped with art camp one summer, and become a museum educator. While not at the museum, I work at a local stained glass studio, Blue Heron Glass, where I teach and create unique works of glass art.

Davidson Hall

Davidson Hall is the building our classroom was in, as seen from the Herb Garden Path.

I was able to combine my interests in art and education, including my obsessions with knitting and yarn, on my recent vacation to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. I took a week-long spinning class (spinning yarn, not bicycles) with a good friend and we stayed at one of the school’s houses. Neither of us had ever spun yarn before, but we were both excited for the challenge. The school is located in the mountains in a small town called Brasstown, NC, very near the Georgia and Tennessee borders. They offer classes all year long and in many different topics like fiber arts (spinning, knitting, weaving, quilting, etc.), blacksmithing, pottery, writing, painting, woodturning, music, and other folk arts.

It was like stepping into a different time and onto a slightly different planet. Upon checking in, we learned that there were no keys to the rooms and while our linens were provided, we had to make our own beds. Meals were included with our board and all the dining was family-style where we served ourselves and bussed our own tables. It was camp for adults (although they welcome young ones to the school).  Much of the food was grown in the school’s gardens and they baked most of the bread there. There were numerous paths and trails on the grounds, and we enjoyed walking through the woods and fields of the school.

spinning class setup

Spinning Class shows our set-up with the wheels and fleece.

Our spinning instructor was from Boulder, CO and there were people from all across the country in our class. We started by discussing how to prepare a fleece directly from the sheep and moved on from there. Over the course of the week we spun yarn from five different breeds of sheep, cotton, silk and commercially available roving. We learned about different types of spinning wheels and even played a little with drop spindles. We played with hand carders, drum carders, long combs and all sorts of other tools that looked like torture devices. The most exciting and crazy thing we tried was spinning cotton thread directly from unprocessed cotton bolls. One afternoon we took an impromptu field trip to a local sheep farm.

Along with the classes they had activities in the evenings like demonstrations from other classes, a contra dance, and a concert on Friday night. Every morning there was “Morning Song,” a 30 minute session of blue grass music and storytelling. There was a fabulous craft shop just under the dining hall that featured goods made by various teachers at the folk school and a book room. Meal times were also a treat because we met interesting people from other classes. Some students were learning totally new skills, like us, while others were taking intermediate or advanced courses.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back. It was such a pleasure to see so many dying arts and crafts alive and well at the folk school and I realized that there are so many other things I want to learn. I just need to figure out what to make with all my hand-spun yarn!

mountain beard

“Mountain Beard” shows my love of fleece!

Rebecca Heister, Museum Educator and Volunteer

1858 Prize Finalist Damian Stamer

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

On June 23, the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the 2014 Short List of finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The 1858 Prize, awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. Over 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted applications during this time period.

The seven artists selected for the 2014 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art short list are Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell. We will profile the seven finalists in a series of blog posts to give readers an in-depth look into each finalist’s training, creative process, and inspiration. This week’s  blog post is written by UVA collections/curatorial intern, Bridget Bailey.

A native of Durham, North Carolina and current resident of Chapel Hill, painter Damian Stamer is transfixed with the antiquated southern landscape. After receiving his BFA from the University of Arizona, Stamer earned his MFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He paints “places that would rather be left alone”:  barns, sheds, abandoned houses, and other vernacular structures of the rural south in a style that creates a tension between realism and abstraction. In these works he creates a sensation of both being visible and disappearing.

Stamer’s recent paintings are primarily black and white—placing them in dialogue with black and white photography—especially images of the south, (i.e. Walker Evans,) as well as printmaking. The artist’s decision to paint, as opposed to working in other media, seems necessary, delineated by the scenes he depicts, as he calls his brush “a fitting tool to translate secrets from a bygone era, too thick and murky to capture with ones and zeros.” Through varying his mark-making and textures, he creates moments of both richness and atmosphere, heavy with the history and stories of a place, which, Stamer says, he feels obligated to capture and bring into the foreign walls of the gallery.

Rummage by Damian Stamer

Rummage by Damian Stamer

His canvases are often big, sometimes multi-paneled or non-rectangular, allowing the viewer to enter into the space of his paintings with the afternoon light, (i.e. figure 1: “Rummage,” 2014.) The tires in “Patrick Rd. 8” (figure 2) evoke Allan Kaprow’s “Yard,” though the action in Stamer’s work is not just in the repeated circles of the tires but in the white tornado-like vortex that seems to dance across the undefined space. In some paintings, the barns are blatantly disappearing, records of their transience as marks upon the landscape, (figure 3: “New Sharon Church Rd.,” 2012.)

Patrick Rd 8 by Damian Stamer

Patrick Rd 8 by Damian Stamer

The space of Stamer’s paintings is haunting, as he subtly animates what has been abandoned and will soon be gone, pointing to the beauty of impermanence, the mortality of people and things and the tangible feeling of a place steeped in memory.

New Sharon Church Rd by Damian Stamer

New Sharon Church Rd by Damian Stamer

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